Think the Shutdown Won’t Affect Workers’ Comp? As If!

As IfThe government has been shut down for 10 days now. I’m stocking up for the zombie apocalypse but other than that my life is still functioning at a relatively normal pace *knock on wood*. There are a lot of others, including those in the workers’ comp industry, who are not so lucky.

Claims processing is now even more complicated than it was before (if you can believe it). It is taking longer to get information on a claimant’s average current earnings, so their disability payments cannot be calculated and they will not receive payments as soon as they need them.

Reports indicate that 94% of EPA workers have been furloughed. You might not think they have much to do with workers’ comp but they work closely with the OSHA. They perform audits, investigations, ensure compliance, issue licenses and publish reports. Things like hazardous chemicals and air quality play a big role in occupational disease.

Safety regulators are not doing full inspections of hazardous work zones, how could they be expected to with only 230 of the 2,235 OSHA employees on the job? OSHA states that they are only responding to situations that pose a “high risk of death or serious physical harm”.

Government websites, including OSHA and others are not being updated, so people are having a difficult time accessing information they need.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has also been impacted in terms of furloughed employers and therefore decreased safety procedures. There have been 3 deaths in as many days.

“It is extremely troubling that within a week after the federal government shutdown caused the normal system of mine safety inspection and enforcement to come to a halt, three miners are dead,” said Cecil E. Roberts, the president of the United Mine Workers of America. “The government’s watchdog isn’t watching.”

There are too many other services and programs that are affected for me to go on, but you get the idea. This is majorly hurting the workers’ comp system, not to mention a ton of other programs. Someone’s gotta blink in this staring contest. I hope it gets resolved as soon as possible.

At least we are still getting the mail. I can live without clean drinking water and air but I think the lack of grocery circulars and flyers for tree removal services would put me over the edge.

What's your take? Continue the discussion with others over at the WCInsights LinkedIn Group.
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